פ’ משפטים תשע”ח
Volume 22, Issue 6
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholars’ Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
ואלא המשפאים אשר תשים לפניהם
“And these are the ordinances that you shall place before them…” (21:1)
Why is Parshat Mishpatim – the section of the Torah that deals with judicial cases – juxtaposed to the parsha of the mizbe’ach? Rashi answers that the Torah is teaching us that we must place the Sanhedrin adjacent to the Beit HaMikdash. The mizbe’ach and the Sanhedrin affect a common outcome. The mizbe’ach brings peace and harmony between Klal Yisrael and Hashem through the sacrifices offered and the atonement achieved. The Sanhedrin brings about peace between man and his fellow by adjudicating fairly. (Har Tzvi)
The rules of chosen mishpat (monetary and judiciary laws) correspond to the tenth commandment – Lo tachmod – You shall not covet. If a person does not know the laws of choshen mishpat, he may think that a certain item is rightfully his. He will covet that item and take it for himself. Therefore Hashem told Moshe to place before Bnei Yisrael – mishpatim, just judgments – that they should practice amongst themselves and by doing so they will not covet what is not legally theirs. The fulfillment of the entire Torah depends on monetary laws. Therefore Hashem gave these laws immediately after the Aseret HaDibrot. (Ramban)
אם כסף תלוה את עמי את העני עמך לא תהיה לו כנשה
“When you lend money to My people, to the poor person who is with you, do not act as a creditor…” (21:24)
Rav Chaim David Azulai (the Chida) reads into this seemingly awkward phrase a halacha that we find in Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 70) that one may not lend a significant amount of money to another without having evidence of the loan, e.g., witnesses, a contract, or collateral. Without such evidence, the other party might someday be tempted to deny the loan, and the lender will have broken the commandment of “Do not place a stumbling block before the blind.”
On the other hand, the greatest level of charity is giving in a completely private way, where no outsider sees the possible shame of the recipient, and, if possible, where the recipient does not see or know his benefactor (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 249).
We read into this verse: “If you lend money, [do it] with my people [observing as witnesses]”; however, “to the poor [to whom you give charity] with you] alone – no observers.” (Rav Chaim Yosrf David Azulai – Nachal Kedumim)
מדבר שקר תרחק
“From a false matter you shall keep far away…” (23:7)
Reb Zisha suggests the following interpretation of the verse: From a false matter, (because of every untrue word you speak) you shall keep far away, (you grow more distant from Hashem, for it is written: “A liar shall not stand in front of His eyes.” (Otzar Chaim)
The verse in Tehillim (119:160) says: Your word is true form the beginning. The Aseret HaDibrot begins with the letter א – אנכי…; the Mishnah begins with the letter מ – מאימתי קורין את שמע; and the Gemara begins with letter ת – תנא הכי קאי…. Your word is true from the beginning – The first letters of the Written Torah and the Oral Torah comprise the word אמת – truth. (Chidushei HaRim)
In one of his sermons, the Maggid of Kelm commented on this verse: It might seem that the warning regarding a liar is most severe. However, the truth is that a liar is worse than a robber or a thief. The thief does his deed in secret, usually working at night so as not to be seen. The robber, on the other hand, works nights and days, yet his objective is usually toward one particular aim. But, the liar works at all times and in all places, at all hours, night or day, toward the individual and the multitudes. (Parparot La’Torah)
ויאמרו כל אשר דבר ה’ נעשה ונשנע
“The people responded, ‘We will do and we will learn everything that G-d has spoken…’” (24:7)
By saying “we will do” before “we will learn,” the Jewish people declared that they were prepared to fulfill G-d’s will unconditionally – accepting His commandments even before they knew what they were. It is still on the condition of this commitment that G-d continues to “give us the Torah” today – i.e., revealing Himself and His will to us as we study the Torah and perform its commandments.
Conventional thinking may deem it irrational to commit oneself to a contract before the terms of the contract are spelled out. And we can indeed connect to G-d as He reveals Himself within creation without first committing ourselves to do whatever He wants. But the only way we can connect to G-d Himself – i.e., as He is beyond creation and rationality – is by likewise rising above the limits of rationality. Therefore, nowadays, just as when the Torah was first given, the way we connect with G-d Himself is by devoting ourselves to His Torah unconditionally. (Likutei Sichot)
Sefer Hama’amarim V’hakuntresim writes: “When the Torah was given at Har Sinai, the essence of Hashem’s infinite light was revealed in the letters of the Ten Commandments. At the same time, Hashem imbued every Jewish soul throughout the generations, in every age and in every location, with the power to draw down the same revelation through the study of Torah.”
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